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Cerebrospinal fluid is a clear fluid that cushions your brain. Hydrocephalus occurs when there is too much fluid in the brain. Too much of this fluid can put dangerous pressure on the brain. This pressure can cause permanent physical and mental damage.
Congenital hydrocephalus can be present at birth. Acquired hydrocephalus can develop after a head injury, stroke, illness or tumor. Bleeding in the brain can also lead to hydrocephalus.
A baby born with hydrocephalus may have an unusually large head. The baby's skull may also grow rapidly.
Diagnosis of hydrocephalus includes a neurological evaluation and pressure-monitoring tests. Imaging test such as ultrasounds, CAT scans and MRIs may also be used.
Symptoms of acquired hydrocephalus include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty maintaining balance
- Bladder-control problems
- Thinking and memory problems
Hydrocephalus is fatal if it is left untreated. There are several treatment options. One option is surgically implanting a shunt to drain fluid off the brain. Other treatments are medication and rehabilitation therapy.
In fewer cases, a procedure called ventriculostomy is done. Excess fluid is drained off of the brain during this procedure. It involves using a tiny camera to capture brain images while a surgeon re-routes the cerebrospinal fluid so that it can be absorbed.